Bialik’s Classic Works Find New Life Online

The Hebraic Section at the Library of Congress recently digitized a rich collection of rare children’s books and periodicals in Hebrew and Yiddish (from 1900-1929), including many works by the great poet Ḥayyim Nahman Bialik. Ann Brener highlights one work in particular, Bialik’s children’s tale Ha-Tarn’golim v’ha-Shu’al, or The Chickens and the Fox.

Bialik is often called the “father of modern Hebrew poetry,” but he was that and much, much more: writer, editor, translator, publisher. He contributed stories and poems for children to Hebrew periodicals from Kiev to New York; he founded thriving Hebrew presses that published children’s books in Odessa, Berlin, and Tel Aviv. In addition to all this, Bialik was also a tireless redactor of the ancient Hebrew sources, eager to take the ancient Jewish literary treasures out of the Beit Midrash, so to speak, and make them available to Hebrew readers in general. It was this talent for redaction, together with his unparalleled gift for poetry, that Bialik brought to bear on his rhymed Hebrew tale Ha-Tarn’golim v’ha-Shu’al (The Chickens and the Fox), now a classic of Hebrew children’s literature.

For his story, Bialik turned to one of these old and largely forgotten Hebrew sources, Mishlei Shu’alim, a collection of fox fables written by Berekhiah ha-Nakdan, a Jewish scholar who lived in 12th-13th century France or England. Fox fables were a popular genre in his day, and scholars have noted that Berekhiah could have drawn his fables from any number of existing collections, including Aesop’s Fables, then circulating in various vernaculars, or the French fox fables written closer to his own time by Marie de France. Berekhiah did not so much make up his stories as render them in Hebrew for a Jewish audience.

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More about: Children's books, Hayyim Nahman Bialik, Modern Hebrew literature

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security